Snow, flat light challenges athletes in KT-22 Banzai
There’s no telling what Mother Nature will throw at skiers and snowboarders on any given stop of the Rahlves’ Banzai Tour.
A week after being treated to blue-bird skies in the opening event at Kirkwood, the second stop of the tour challenged athletes with snow, wind and flat light in the KT-22 Banzai at Squaw Valley this past weekend.
“This event always tests the best and everyone had their share of adversity against their competition, Mother Nature and themselves,” said former Olympic ski racer and event founder Daron Rahlves. “I was impressed with the level of riding, as all were on guard for those little bumps that blend right in under the lack of definition. All in all we pulled it off and had great battles once again.”
The top two finishers in the men’s ski final mirrored the Kirkwood event, as last year’s Super Final winner, Kyle Coxon, raced to the victory ahead of runner-up Shawn McGee. Grant Ketels finished third and T.J. Sewell fourth.
Because Coxon had already secured his spot, McGee will be among the four top finishers to compete against Rahlves in the Super Final at Sugar Bowl in the series finale. The Super Final, which will also include the winners of the Alpine Meadows and Sugar Bowl stops, is a winner-takes-all race worth $5,000.
The top two finishers in the men’s snowboard final also matched the Kirkwood stop, as Frenchman Sylvain Duclos finished first and Sierraville’s Jayson Hale second. They were followed by Lucas Dehmlow and Bobby Minghini in third and fourth. Like McGee, Hale clinched his spot in the snowboard Super Final, which will pit the top finishers against Olympic snowboardcross racer Nate Holland.
As they often do in the Rahlves’ Banzai Tour, Shannon Rahlves and former World Cup moguls skier Shelly Robertson finished 1-2 in the women’s ski final, swapping places from the first stop when Robertson edged Rahlves. McKenzy Golding finished third and Amy Doran fourth.
In the women’s snowboard division, Kiana Putman took the win and Maria Dugan was second, followed by Audrey Hebert and Casey Lucas. Kirkwood winner Iris Lazzareschi did not compete.
Men’s skier John Lang, meanwhile, executed a large spread-eagle crotch grab off of the Alaska Airlines Flight Deck during his third heat Sunday, earning himself a $100 credit toward an Alaska Airlines flight.
Combined with her second-place finish at Kirkwood, Lucas leads the women’s snowboard standings, while Duclos lead the men’s snowboard standings, Rahlves and Robertson are tied for the women’s ski lead, and Coxon leads the men’s skiing field.
“The Banzai keeps soldiering on in Tahoe,” Daron Rahlves said. “With low snowpack, the advantage is a lot of terrain in play, and we had that for Squaw Valley’s KT-22 Banzai.”
The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour continues with the Face Banzai at Alpine Meadows on Saturday and Sunday, before concluding with the Silver Belt Banzai at Sugar Bowl on March 15-16.